There is something special about Palm Desert resident JJ Virgin. She appears to be the girl next door all the boys adored (tall, blonde, athletic build); yet, the inquisitive tomboy who could play and explore with the best of them. In high school, she studied ballet while weight training with the football team.
Virgin’s passion, inner strength and ‘can do’ attitude shine through when she speaks, and these attributes have certainly served her well. She is a sought-after fitness and nutrition expert, a public speaker, television personality (host of TLC’s Freaky Eaters; PBS’s Drop 7 Foods, Feel Better Fast), author of the NY Times best-selling weight-loss book, The Virgin Diet, and even a member of Mensa, the international high IQ society. She is also the mother of two teenage boys who would come to realize the depth of her strength and determination when needed most.
Her understanding of how food affects the body started young. Like many of us, she was raised on Pop Tarts and Captain Crunch; however, unlike most, she would save her allowance for trips to the health food store. She is a self-described “chronic student” taking over 40 graduate courses (and counting) including Biomechanics from Cal-State Northridge, Sports Medicine from University of Miami and doctoral level courses in Exercise Physiology, Nutrition and Aging from USC.
From her 25 years of education, experience and success with thousands of clients, Virgin surmises that weight loss is not about calories, fat, protein and carbs, but rather avoiding and overcoming food intolerance. Simply put, she says, “You won’t lose weight if you are eating foods your body can’t handle.”
You’ve read about food intolerance often in Desert Health® and may be one of many already eliminating gluten and/or dairy from your diet (And soy? See pg. 8). But Virgin has taken this message to the masses and is educating the country on how to identify triggers and make positive changes for lasting results. “Our goal with The Virgin Diet was to help 1 million people lose weight this year,” states Virgin. The book came out in November 2012 and over half a million are already on board.
Prior to the book, her focus was educating doctors which she continues to do. Virgin thinks big and became a nutritionist (versus a doctor) to help larger numbers of people. “I want to be a part of the change in the way the medical community views weight-loss and healthy eating.”
But just as important are her numerous fans who dubbed themselves “Virginettes” and continue to inspire her with their shared success stories. She leaned on this group in her own time of need, asking for positive energy and prayers, when the unthinkable happened to her 16 year-old son.
Out for an evening walk last October in Palm Desert, Grant was hit by a car going 40 mph and suffered multiple fractures, a major brain injury and a torn aorta. Hearing a “less than a 1% survival rate” kicked Virgin into overdrive and she had him airlifted to UCLA where a team of doctors saved his life. Virgin and Grant’s dad, John, spent four and a half months in the hospital by his side (while launching her book). She added vitamin shakes and complementary therapies to the medical team’s daily routine. Her ‘never say never’ attitude, along with support from family, friends and her network of fans, all contributed to Grant’s miraculous recovery. He is now home and doing better each day.
Virgin realizes that hope and inspiration are a big part of change for all of us. “My goal in educating people about food intolerance is to give people back their hope. There is so much misinformation out there and after many failed attempts, people lose hope.” In her ever-so-inspiring manner she adds, “But what if all along, you were simply following the wrong set of rules?”
JJ Virgin is a featured guest speaker at this year’s Desert Woman’s Show & Conference November 17 & 18 in Rancho Mirage (see page 26). For tickets and information visit www.DesertWomansShow.com. The Virgin Diet is available locally at Barnes & Noble and online at www.TheVirginDiet.com.